Monday, September 5, 2011

Klinsmann wants 'nastier' US team

Jurgen Klinsmann, still looking for his first victory as coach of the United States soccer squad, wants to see more nastiness from the Americans as they prepare to visit Belgium on Tuesday.

Costa Rica upset the US team 1-0 on Friday at Los Angeles, denying the former German coach and international playmaker his first victory since being named coach of the Americans on July 29.

Klinsmann, who settled for a 1-1 draw with Mexico in his US coaching debut last month, said he was not unhappy with his team's performance in defeat but the players must toughen up on scoring opportunites to improve.

"The next step they need to get to is to be even more determined," said Klinsmann. "There needs to be another piece of determination, another piece of being greedy for that goal. A bit more nastiness is part of it too.

"The physical part of it is where we need to step up more and be more hungry and finish off one of our chances."

Klinsmann is trying to instill his attacking system of play on the American team and test combinations to find what works and what does not.

"Players are starting to learn what it means to play your way through and keep a high tempo and a high pace," Klinsmann said.

"We saw here and there players getting tired. They had a couple of minutes where they were really struggling, but they need to learn to go through those minutes and fight their way through.

"They got a second and third breath in periods during the game and did excellent with the way they combined and the way they looked for each other and the way they kind of passed their way out of difficult and tight spaces.

"There was confidence there. There was technical ability there."

US veteran Landon Donovan, a Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder, expects more familiarity with Klinsmann's system will bring success.

"We?ve spent a lot of time on the field trying to understand what he wants us to do," Donovan said. "As time goes on we?ll get better."

Whether that happens in time to beat Belgium in Brussels is another question.

"Belgium will be another good experience for them," Klinsmann said. "We want to try to develop that style of play that we are confident on the ball and that we try to pass our way through difficult situations and tight spaces.

"It will take time."

US captain Carlos Bocanegra expects the Belgians to be just the right test for the Americans.

"It?s going to be a tough game and another challenge for us," he said. "They are a quality team in Europe and it?s good for some of our younger guys to get that opportunity. It will be a good test."

US midfielder Jose Torres said it's too soon to judge Klinsmann's impact on the team.

"Everything is going well," he said. "He has given me the opportunity to play free. He tells me to get on the ball and attack a lot more. That gives me a lot of confidence."

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